I just read the latest screed by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, in the “On Faith” section of The Washington Post. The left-wing Catholic presumes to question the faith of those who oppose Obamacare.
“The question of health care insurance is an example of how persons professing to be the most religious among us can nonetheless violate basic teachings of Jesus,” writes Stevens-Arroyo, whose brand of Catholicism would be alien to Pope Benedict XVI.
“It goes against Christian discipleship,” he asserts, “to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering a substitute that will provide for 40 million uninsured, most of them children.”
That 40 million figure Stevens-Arroyo cites is a canard. It misleads the public about the breadth and depth of the uninsured population.
The reality is that the ranks of the “truly uninsured” – those that desperately want health insurance but can’t get it – is far smaller than 40 million, as documented by Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., co-author of “Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.”
Indeed, to inflate the size of the “uninsured” population, Obamacare supporters count those that have been without health insurance at any point during the course of a year, even for a day or two.
But the government’s original definition of “uninsured” were those lacking health insurance for an entire year, or longer. Only 30 percent fall into that category, according to Tanner.
Interestingly, most of the uninsured are young and in good health, Tanner attests. Roughly 60 percent are under age 35, and 86 percent of them report good or excellent health.
Also, not all of the uninsured are necessarily poor. In fact, 43 percent boast incomes that are more than two-and-a-half times the poverty rate. Most of them could buy health insurance if they really wanted, but choose not to.
Then there is the roughly one-quarter of the uninsured population eligible for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that hasn’t enrolled, according to Tanner. That includes 64 percent of all uninsured children and 29 percent of parents with children.
So that gets us to the segment of the uninsured population about which the American public should be most concerned, on which the government should concentrate its attention: poor, working Americans who cannot afford health insurance, but who do not qualify for government programs.
We do not need Obamacare to provide for that population. The simplest, most cost-effective solution – broached nearly a decade ago by Gerald Kominsky, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research – is to take the federal and state dollars that now go to hospitals to treat the truly uninsured and use the funds instead to purchase health insurance for them.
Kominsky’s prescription might not satisfy Stevens-Arroyo, who suggests that anything short of Obamacare is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. But I believe the good Lord would find it acceptable.